Final countdown begins for 2012 Paralympics

Organisers of next year’s London 2012 Paralympics have released full details of the competition schedule for all 20 sports.

The details were released as the organising committee prepared to pass a key milestone in its preparations for London 2012: one year to go until the opening ceremony on 29 August 2012.

Ticket prices were also confirmed at the same time as full details for the 10 days of competition, including the dates and times for more than 300 sessions across the 20 sports in 20 venues.

Track and field athletics will start on 31 August and finish on 8 September, with the marathon taking place the following day, 9 September, the same day as the closing ceremony.

Track cycling will take place between 30 August and 2 September, with swimming from 30 August to 8 September.

Sir Philip Craven, president of the International Paralympic Committee, said: “Our elite athletes will captivate billions around the world, will inspire millions and ultimately lead to societal change and help alter perceptions of what can be achieved by a person with an impairment.

“These are a games not to be missed and the announcement of the competition schedule, together with International Paralympic Day [in Trafalgar Square] on 8 September, act as two steps closer to the opening ceremony of the games next year.”

Tim Hollingsworth, chief executive of ParalympicsGB, which manages Britain’s Paralympians, said: “Knowing that the schedule is out makes it all the more real.

“We are working hard with the sports and athletes to make every one of the last 369 days count, as everyone is determined to produce their lifetime best performances on home soil.

“We hope that people will use the schedule to plan their trip so that they can get behind the ParalympicsGB team and cheer us on.”

The highest ticket prices will be for athletics sessions in the main Olympic stadium, track cycling in the Velodrome and swimming in the Aquatics Centre, likely to be the three most popular sports among spectators.

Tickets for athletics, swimming and track cycling sessions that include medal-deciding finals range from £5 for concessions to £45 for the most expensive tickets.

Tickets for the archery, equestrian events, rowing, shooting and road cycling are just £10, with concessions also available.

Most tickets for 5-a-side and 7-a-side football will be £15, as will most of those for wheelchair basketball, boccia, wheelchair rugby, wheelchair tennis, table-tennis, sitting volleyball, wheelchair fencing, goalball, judo and powerlifting, again with concessions available.

Sailing in Weymouth and Portland, Dorset, will be a free, non-ticketed event.

Prices for the opening and closing ceremonies are much higher than for any of the sports events. Tickets for the opening ceremony on 29 August 2012 range from £20.12 up to £500, with closing ceremony tickets as high as £350.

Tickets will be on sale from 9am on 9 September 2011.

News provided by John Pring at

Ruling means questions remain over police treatment of disabled protesters

Serious questions remain over how the police treat disabled protesters, after an independent watchdog ruled that an officer used “excessive” force in dragging an activist across a road and away from his wheelchair.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) partially upheld an appeal lodged by disabled activist Jody McIntyre over the treatment he received in two separate incidents in Westminster during last December’s student tuition fees demonstrations.

McIntyre had appealed after an internal Metropolitan police investigation concluded that the actions of its officers were “justifiable in the circumstances”.

The IPCC said it could not prove whether a Metropolitan police officer tipped McIntyre from his wheelchair, after failing to move him while he was sitting in it, but that it was clear that he had used “excessive force” when he then dragged him across the road.

The IPCC concluded that although the officer could justify attempting to move McIntyre to a “safer location”, he did not need to drag him across the road.

The IPCC added: “The evidence indicated that the officer had the option of returning Mr McIntyre to his wheelchair, because Mr McIntyre’s brother moved it towards the officer for this purpose.”

The incident was filmed on a mobile phone and has been viewed by hundreds of thousands of people on the internet.

Although the IPCC said the officer’s conduct should have been referred to the Crown Prosecution Service to consider a criminal charge of common assault, the six-month time limit for such action had expired by the time McIntyre lodged his appeal.

The results of the Met’s internal investigation into the two incidents had been announced just days before the six months expired.

McIntyre told Disability News Service that the IPCC seemed to believe that “pushing a disabled man out of his wheelchair is acceptable”.

He said: “For disabled groups, that would be the most shocking element of the story, that the police now have the power to push you out of your wheelchair onto the floor.”

He said the IPCC had delivered a “partial confirmation of what I already knew – that the police seriously mistreated me on the demo”.

But he questioned why the Met had been allowed to drag out its internal investigation to ensure its officer could not be prosecuted.

He said: “When young people riot in the streets, the courts are open 24 hours-a-day, seven days-a-week in order to prosecute them, but the police couldn’t meet a time limit of six months to prosecute their own officer.”

The IPCC concluded that the officer’s conduct had “fallen below the standards of professional behaviour and should be subject to management action”.

It also concluded that the force owed McIntyre an “apology” for an earlier incident in which another officer had struck him with a baton.

But McIntyre said an apology would be “completely inadequate”, and added: “If I assaulted someone, I am sure they would be expecting more than an apology.”

He is now considering civil legal action against the Met and individual officers.

The Met has so far failed to comment on whether it needs a policy on how to treat wheelchair-users in “public order” situations.

Earlier this year, the force admitted it had no such policy in place, with disabled people instead “dealt with on a case by case basis”.

News provided by John Pring at

New access guide to Barking and Dagenham goes live!


Barking and Dagenham Council has joined online access guide to provide a fantastic resource for anyone who wants to know more about disabled access in the area.

‘The guide to Barking and Dagenham’ covers over 1,000 venues including cinemas, hotels, parks, leisure centres, council offices, high street stores, restaurants, tourist attractions – the list goes on and on.

The guide, which launched on Friday 15th July will enable people to find out whether venues have adapted toilets or parking close by but also specific details such as whether there are tactile or Braille markings in lifts or on doors, the dimensions of toilets, the positioning of fixtures and fittings and whether they can request information in large print or Braille.

Councillor Linda Reason, Barking and Dagenham Council Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Services said:

‘I am delighted that working together with DisabledGo who employed local disabled residents to help produce the guide, have been able to produce this new guide to local shops, leisure facilities and public buildings.  It provides answers to everyday questions that will help disabled people use local facilities with confidence and showcases how well local businesses support the needs of the whole community.’

Commenting on the launch of the DisabledGo-Barking and Dagenham guide, Dr Gregory Burke, Chief Executive of DisabledGo said;

‘I would like to thoroughly commend Barking and Dagenham’s vision and commitment to this project. It will make a real difference to both residents and visitors to the Borough who have access concerns, empowering them to find services and venues that suit their own specific requirements.’

The online guide will provide benefits for business too, helping them reach more customers by publicising the access they offer. Current figures estimate that there are 11 million disabled people in Britain who spend £80 billion each year, numbers that every business should take notice of. All businesses that take part also receive Disability Awareness Manuals, designed as a 20 minute introduction to disability and access.

Not only will the information be available on but dedicated London website covering access to leisure and tourist attractions across the capital.

All of the information provided on DisabledGo Barking and Dagenham will also be available on the ‘Looking Local’ service on the red button on your TV, so if you don’t have access to a computer at home you can still get the information you need.

If you would like more information about DisabledGo or DisabledGo Barking and Dagenham please contact Tom Felton, Partnership Administrator (E: T: 01438 842710).

DisabledGo launches pioneering disabled access guide to Manchester Airport

DisabledGo has launched a pioneering new access guide to one of the UK’s busiest airports, providing disabled customers with all the information required to plan their journey with confidence.

The new guide takes visitors to the airport through their journey; from the car park to their departure lounge if they are flying from Manchester, or alternatively from arrivals through to the car park if Manchester is their final destination. Every piece of information on the airport guide has been collected in person by a trained DisabledGo surveyor. The information includes everything from details of the fixtures and fittings in accessible toilets, to hearing assistance systems, lighting levels and the dimensions of parking bays.

Speaking about the development of the guide Dr Gregory Burke, Chief Executive of DisabledGo said: “We are delighted to have worked in partnership on this pioneering project. It has been clear throughout the whole process that Manchester Airport is committed to providing the best possible service to disabled travellers and recognises that disabled people are a much ignored market. As a wheelchair user and a frequent flyer I know how incredibly stressful air travel can often be. This guide will be a step-change in making every journey better for disabled people and anyone else. All credit to Manchester Airport.”

Manchester Airport

Andrew Harrison, Manchester Airport’s Managing Director, said: “I am delighted that we are the first airport to have helped create a DisabledGo guide. We want to make every customer’s journey stress free so this World-first guide is just another way of us helping take away the worry for passengers with reduced mobility. By launching this guide in the summer season, I am confident that passengers will find it useful in navigating their way around the airport.”

The guide can be accessed free of charge on DisabledGo’s website simply type in ‘Manchester Airport’ in to the search box on the homepage. The guide will also be available on The information is easily searchable by using a range of icons and is complemented by interactive 3D maps of the Airport site.

If you would like any further information about the DisabledGo-Manchester Airport guide or about DisabledGo in general please contact Rachel Felton, External Relations Manager by telephone on 01438 842710 or email

DisabledGo in attendance as Naidex takes the south by storm!

For the second year running DisabledGo will have a stand at Naidex South. The event will take place on 19th-20th October at ExCeL London, a fully accessible Paralympic venue. Anyone can come along and visit DisabledGo on stand E35, by registering for free attendance at

Building on the successful launch of Naidex South last year which exceeded all expectations, the organisers are busy adding to this year’s show programme to further improve the fantastic London event.

Exciting new features have been added to this year’s Naidex South, including the Independent Living Show Home where visitors can see the best in inclusive design, new technology and products demonstrated in a realistic setting. There will also be a Meet the Expert zone providing a unique, free service designed to answer your questions and offer invaluable advice via a drop in facility.

Come October, the 2012 Paralympics will be less than 9 months away, so the organisers of Naidex South will be including various features related to this global sporting event. One such feature is the Paralympic Showcase, which will celebrate the talents of disabled athletes and encourage visitors to get involved in sports on the day, also offering information on local clubs they can contact after the show.

You will still be able to enjoy Naidex favourites such as the Communication and Learning Village, designed to house the latest technological advancements and the Car Zone, which will have many of the UK’s leading vehicle converters exhibiting the latest WAV developments. Meet the OT is also returning and as usual healthcare professionals are invited to attend the comprehensive free CPD Naidex Conference programme. KideQuip, the must see zone dedicated to children with special needs, is another firm favourite.

Naidex South 2011 is shaping up to be an unmissable event, so put October 19th-20th in your diaries and come and say hello to the DisabledGo team on stand E35. To ensure you don’t miss out, Register for free entry at

New work support rules ‘forcing PAs to seek minicab licences’

New government guidance will make it even harder for disabled people to use a key employment support scheme to find and keep work, according to a new report.

The Essex-based disabled people’s organisation ecdp compiled the report after being contacted by several disabled people concerned by the new restrictions on Access to Work (ATW) funding.

It is only the latest concern to be raised about tighter Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) restrictions on ATW, imposed despite coalition claims that its controversial welfare reforms are aimed at supporting disabled people off benefits and into work.

Government figures released last month showed a dramatic slump in the number of “new customers” helped by ATW, from 16,520 to 13,240 in 2010-11.

The new DWP guidance, introduced on 1 August, means that disabled people who are driven to and from work by their personal assistant (PA) will no longer be able to claim ATW funding for that travel if they are being driven in their PA’s car.

Instead, they will have to insure the PA to drive their own car – if they have one – or a company car.

The most likely solution would be to use taxis, which would reduce the level of choice and control they have over how they travel.

Another option being suggested by some ATW advisers to disabled people is for the PA to apply for a minicab licence from their local authority.

The estimated extra cost in ATW payments for one of the ecdp members who has raised concerns about the new rules could be at least £300 a week, if they use taxis, or thousands of pounds a year if their PA tries to register as a minicab driver.

The ATW rules also appear to clash with new Department for Transport (DfT) guidance on private hire vehicle licensing, which strongly suggests that PAs do not need to obtain a licence.

An ecdp spokeswoman said the DfT guidance seems to “directly contradict” the new ATW rules, while local authorities who have been contacted so far have stated there is no need for PAs to obtain a minicab licence.

She said some ATW advisers “appear to have underestimated the cost of securing a licence and overlooked some of the hidden costs within this”.

Mike Adams, ecdp’s chief executive, said: “This red tape means that disabled people, and their staff, will have to jump through extra bureaucratic hoops just to carry on working.

“The potential cost for disabled people and to the public purse could be significant.”

A DWP spokeswoman said: “We have made these changes to comply with the law. Disabled people will still get the support they need with the additional costs of travel to work.”

But a DfT spokeswoman said its guidance stresses that “responsibility for making decisions” on whether a vehicle requires a private hire vehicle licence “rests with local authorities” and “would depend on the facts of each case”.

Asked whether DfT was discussing with DWP the problems that have arisen with the two sets of apparently contradictory guidance, she added: “I do not believe we are talking to them at the moment.”

18 August 2011

News provided by John Pring at

DisabledGo-Hampshire local surveyor takes the plunge!

On the 12th August, Iain Speed, Managing Director of All Inclusive and more recently a local surveyor for DisabledGo took part in an abseil down the Spinnaker Tower in Gun Wharf, Portsmouth. Iain who has Cerebral Palsy did the abseil to raise awareness of local charity Parity for Disability.

Iain has spent the last couple of months working with DisabledGo to produce a 1000 venue access guide to Hampshire. As part of the project DisabledGo employed local people to work alongside their surveyors to help deliver a guide that aims to empower disabled people.

Speaking about his time as a surveyor Iain said;

I’ve had a fantastic time doing the surveying for DisabledGo in Hampshire, it was really interesting and I enjoyed working with Richard Beaty, DisabledGo’s surveying coordinator for Hampshire.

It was surprising to find the difference between really helpful staff and those defensive about answering any questions on access but on the whole attitudes are beginning to change.  Shops and other retailers are making efforts to be as accessible as possible and just as a footnote it seems that all bookies like disabled punters! They all had accessible toilets and easy access.

Iain Speed, All Inclusive

Talking about the abseil Iain said “The buzz was indescribable, from fear at the top, dangling on a rope 300 feet in the air, to exhilaration watching the crowd from a bird’s eye view. I feel the experience encapsulates my Live the Life not the Label© motto. As Managing Director of All Inclusive, this was an opportunity to promote disability inclusion. We, as a Company, strive to participate in the Equality agenda through disability and Cerebral Palsy awareness training”

Iain went on to thank his climbing partner and personal trainer Rich Lucas, and commented “I would like to give a really big thank you to my climbing partner, Rich Lucas, who came down with me. We even had time for a conversation as we descended! The views were immense and the pint of beer was well earned! I’ve raised £380 so far for Parity for Disability, a worthwhile local charity that works with people with complex and multiple disabilities. Rich and I are already working on our next challenge which is climbing Snowdon and we will be doing the abseil down the Spinnaker Tower again this time next year! I may even get some of my team to join me!”

All of the DisabledGo team would like to congratulate Iain on his exceptional achievement and if you would like to donate to a very good cause, go to Iain’s Just Giving page at

If you would like more information about the DisabledGo-Hampshire access guide that Iain has been involved in please contact Rachel Felton, External Relations Manager DisabledGo. Tel: 01438 842710 Email:

Police and council ‘investigated’ scandal hospital concerns six times

Police and council officers had at least six chances to investigate concerns about the safety of disabled people in a private “hospital” in the two years before the abusive regime was finally exposed by the BBC.

The Panorama investigation uncovered serious allegations of abuse at Winterbourne View, a private hospital for people with learning difficulties, near Bristol.

But it emerged this week that there were at least seven “alerts” notifying the authorities of safety concerns at Winterbourne View between October 2009 and August 2010, nine months before the documentary was aired in May this year.

Six of the alerts were dealt with by the council’s safeguarding team and investigated by Avon and Somerset police, while a seventh was investigated by Castlebeck, the company that ran Winterbourne View. At least three of the alerts reportedly related to the use of restraint or physical abuse by hospital staff.

South Gloucestershire Council has already faced criticism for apparently failing to follow-up concerns raised by a whistleblower in October 2010.

But the new evidence raises fresh questions over why the council failed to uncover the alleged abuse that was later exposed by Panorama, despite the number of safeguarding concerns raised during those two years.

A South Gloucestershire Council spokesman admitted that the referrals go back even further than October 2009.

He said the council received 19 safeguarding referrals between the opening of Winterbourne View in 2006 and 12 May 2011, when it learned about the Panorama programme.

Of these 19 referrals, 17 came from managers at Winterbourne View and two from charge nurses, while 15 concerned the behaviour of members of staff.

The council spokesman said a serious case review set up in the wake of the Panorama documentary would “look in detail at each of these alerts and consider the appropriateness of the multi-agency safeguarding response to them”, while the council had also launched its own internal investigation.

Avon and Somerset police declined to comment because of its ongoing investigation into the alleged abuse at Winterbourne View, as well as the serious case review, which is examining the actions of all the organisations involved.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC), which regulates health and adult social care in England, said it was passed details of all seven of the alerts.

A CQC spokeswoman said it was “the job of the local authority or the police to investigate these incidents and to hold the provider or staff to account if necessary”.

But she added: “The issue at Winterbourne View was not what was known and reported, but what was concealed – the horrific abuse of vulnerable people which was exposed by weeks of secret filming by Panorama.”

CQC said that these kind of safeguarding referrals were “shocking but sadly not atypical” of such facilities. Last year, CQC received 11,000 “notifications” of serious injury, and nearly 3,500 notifications of police investigations.

Castlebeck has now announced the closure of three of its care facilities for people with learning difficulties, including Winterbourne View.

This week, the company agreed to close Arden Vale, near Coventry, another “hospital” that provides “care” for people with learning difficulties and mental health conditions, after CQC served a legal notice proposing to remove Arden Vale’s registration.

CQC had raised “serious concerns” about care standards at Arden Vale, including the inappropriate use of restraint, and took action when it saw no evidence of the necessary improvements.

Last week, a Castlebeck residential home on the edge of Bristol, Rose Villa, was closed following a string of concerns about care standards and the suspension of four staff members.

Castlebeck said it was “vigorously addressing concerns that have been raised about some of our services”.

It has also received formal warning notices relating to two other care facilities, Croxton Lodge in Melton Mowbray and Cedar Vale in Nottingham, where CQC has again raised concerns about the potential safety of people with learning difficulties.

18 August 2011

News provided by John Pring at

London set for glorious showcase of Paralympic sport

Some of the world’s top disabled sports stars will be in London next month to showcase what the Paralympics has to offer, less than a year before the 2012 games take centre stage in the capital.

International Paralympic Day, on Thursday 8 September, will include demonstrations of sports such as wheelchair basketball, powerlifting and wheelchair rugby in London’s Trafalgar Square.

UK Paralympic stars such as swimmers Ellie Simmonds and Sascha Kindred and rower Sam Scowen will be joined by international athletes including South African Oscar Pistorius, the German athlete Heinrich Popow and US sprinter April Holmes.

Pistorius will be appearing just days after he is due to compete in the (non-disabled) world championships in South Korea, having shocked the athletics world by qualifying for the 400 metres.

The public will be able to find out about all 20 sports that will feature in next year’s London 2012 Paralympic Games, which will take place from 29 August to 9 September.

Other highlights of International Paralympic Day will include an attempt by members of Britain’s sitting volleyball team to break the world record for the longest rally.

International Paralympic Day is usually held in Germany every two years, but Paralympic chiefs decided to hold this year’s event in London as part of the build-up to London 2012. The event will be free, with activities taking place throughout the day.

Sir Philip Craven, president of the International Paralympic Committee, said: “Showcasing Paralympic sport and our athletes in such a superb location, such as Trafalgar Square, will act as the perfect catalyst as we head towards tickets going on-sale.

“It will give the public an opportunity to interact with our athletes, learn more about each sport and see for themselves just why the Paralympic Games is growing in popularity all the time.”

The following day, 9 September, tickets for the London 2012 Paralympics will go on sale, with the application process open until 26 September. More than half of the two million tickets will cost £10 or less, with three-quarters at £20 or less.

On Saturday 10 September, Paralympic sponsor Sainsbury’s will stage a day of live music – including UK acts Pixie Lott, The Saturdays and the Sugababes – demonstrations of Paralympic sports, and appearances by British Paralympic athletes, on London’s Clapham Common.

The Sainsbury’s Super Saturday event will again aim to raise awareness of Paralympic sport, with profits going to the Paralympic Legacy Fund, a Sainsbury’s initiative to support Paralympic athletes.

18 August 2011

News provided by John Pring at

Seven Atos doctors under investigation

Seven doctors employed by the company that carries out controversial “fitness to work” tests for the government are being investigated by the General Medical Council (GMC).

At least one of the doctors has been the subject of more than one complaint, with a total of 10 cases under investigation.

Although the seven doctors work for Atos Healthcare, the company that carries out the work capability assessments on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions, the GMC said it could not confirm whether the complaints related to their work for Atos.

Disabled people forced to undergo the assessments have repeatedly complained about the attitude of Atos staff.

Only last week, two Atos employees – a nurse and an administrator – were caught making offensive comments about their disabled customers on the social networking website Facebook.

Atos is investigating those complaints, while a complaint about the nurse’s comments has also been lodged with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

A GMC spokesman said: “Regardless of the type of work a doctor does they must follow the same standards of good medical practice set by the General Medical Council, including making the care of your patient your first concern.

“We can and do take action to remove or restrict a doctor’s right to practise if there have been serious failures to meet our standards.”

The NMC said it was unable to say if any Atos nurses were under investigation.

An NMC spokeswoman said: “Under our disclosure guidance we cannot confirm if someone is under investigation until it has been referred for a hearing.”

An Atos spokeswoman confirmed that seven of its doctors were under investigation, but said this was less than one per cent of the doctors the company employed.

She added: “We wouldn’t comment on the individual cases of the doctors.”

She declined to say how many Atos nurses were under investigation, but said the company was “committed to providing a high quality, professional service and requires these standards of all its employees”.

She added: “Any complaint made about an employee is taken extremely seriously. In addition to our own, rigorous, internal investigations we will cooperate with any external investigation to ensure that all facts are properly established and the appropriate action taken.”

18 August 2011

News provided by John Pring at